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The Pogodin Collection

In 1852, along with the other contents of the historian Mikhail Pogodin's "treasury of antiquities", the National Library of Russia acquired a collection of seventeenth- to early-nineteenth-century engravings which itself had absorbed several older collections, notably those of Jacob von Stahlin and Ivan Snegirev. According to the inventory there were two sections in Pogodin's collection: "Portraits" and "Russian popular pictures and the works of Russian 17th- and 18th-century engravers".

In the Pogodin collection the work of the period of 1700-1725 is represented by early prints. They include some very rare pieces: The Battle of Poltava by Alexei Zubov and Pieter Pickaerdt, and Izmailovo by Ivan Zubov. The print of Pickaerdt's First View of St Petersburg is the only copy which has survived. Pogodin acquired the majority of these prints as part of the personal archive of Jacob Stahlin (1709-1785), the first person to make a study of the art of Peter's time. Stahlin was invited from Germany to St Petersburg by the Academy of Sciences in 1735 because of his reputation as a specialist in creating illuminations and allegorical engravings for festive occasions. In Russia Stahlin designed firework displays and composed rhyming inscriptions to accompany them, as well as helping to organize and run the engraving workshop of the Academy of Sciences. The training prints and test pulls of engravings with his notes on them which he kept for his collection are invaluable material for the history of that workshop.

Among the unique engravings which passed from Stahlin to Pogodin are a portrait of Ernst-Johann Biron, Empress's Anna's favourite, by Ivan Sokolov, which was never finished because of Biron's arrest in 1740; a depiction of Empress Elizabeth (1742) by the customs guard Konon Timofeyev which was banned by the censor; and engraved portraits of foreign scholars working in Russia by Yelisei Fedoseyev and Vasily Sokolov.

The Print Department possesses the workshop's most celebrated masterpiece, A Plan of the Capital City of St Petersburg with the Depiction of Its Most Distinctive Views, together with numerous copies of those views by Russian and foreign artists.

380 lubok pictures have survived in the Pogodin collection. The most interesting items among them are woodcuts, which were acquired by Pogodin from Stahlin in 1766. Tinted copper engravings, which were popular in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, are also noteworthy works. They belonged at one time to the historian and ethnographer Ivan Snegirev (1793-1868) who not only bought up popular prints but was the first to make a study of them.

 
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Last updated: 28 September 2006